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areas, and we will never have prevention to any huge degree. We certainly can do much better than we are doing.
I think Dr. Kempe had a questionnaire which he has used in trying to determine who might tend to be a battering parent, by at the time of birth asking certain questions and noting certain attitudes that parents have towards newborn babies-children who are not wanted, maybe attempts at abortion before the birth. There are some of those questionnaires that can be done at the very early level, but that would have to somehow be done in a pediatric-obstetrician kind of way.
In my group we have tested many of these parents. We tend to find a schizophrenic profile among the majority of the parents. That is not to say that all schizophrenic patterned people are going to be battering parents, but there has been in our small sample a tendency towards schizophrenia being one of the identifiable symptoms. These are very isolated, alienated people and that is why group therapy is especially helpful to these people, because it gives them something they have never had.
Ms. STEIN. If I might, I do have a comment to that quesition that struck me as the question was being asked earlier.
DATA COLLECTION SYSTEM
One of the things that I find so sorely lacking presently, and that I mentioned is something we need to legislate and to have a part of the new system, is some type of data collection.
We know really very little about the cases that come through the present system. We don't know much about what the characteristics of the cases that go through the court are, and we know even less about the cases that go through the Department of Human Resources, Protective Services, and so on, that don't come to court.
We need to set up some kind of data collection system.
We did do a sample data collection of a small group of cases that did go through the court system and collected out data from that, just very basic types of information. It has not otherwise been available. We can have policemen saying well I think this kind of case and I think that kind of case, but unless we actually are collecting data and have a count of characteristics, we are going to be depending upon people's memories, and it may be flavored that just struck a cord with them, or happened to hit a favorite theory of theirs.
But we really want to find out things about the system, not just for determining who might be a neglecting parent or a battering parent, but also what services we are going to need to provide people. We must collect data.
If we are trying to locate a group of people who may become battering parents, we may not be able to pick them out precisely and say, okay, Mr. A, you are clearly going to be a battering father, but we may find certain characteristics which are more prevalent in certain parts of the population than in others.
For instance, this small sample we did showed a large number of very young parents were battering parents, and then it might be with more data collection we would find that in fact a lot of the battering parents are teenagers, and we would then want to set up some kind of a program in the schools and catch the girls who are dropping out
because of pregnancies and try to provide some services to them in the hope that they would not become battering parents.
But we have got to have a data collection system, and we have got to proceed rationally, and we are not presently doing it.
Ms. RILEY. I might just add that there was a study that Richard Gillis did in examining all of the literature on this where the various authors had described the various personality traits that characterized the pathology of this problem of battering, and of 19 traits listed by the authors there was agreement by two or more authors on only four traits. So, we have a serious problem here.
Mr. MAZZOLI. That is like the 10 economists with 12 points of view. Counsel.
Mr. HOGAN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Is there a tendency for urban centers to have a greater problem in this area than others? For instance, it was raised in testimony heretofore, it looks like the rate here is running about two to three times higher than the national average.
Ms. RILEY. I think that some kinds of child "discipline" are much more acceptable in certain areas. You find areas of Appalachia or other parts of the country where to beat the hell out of a child is very acceptable, and maybe there is not the close community kind of observation, too, of that child.
One sort of nice thing from the point of view of a social worker is neighbors are very nosy, and oftentimes very helpful in pointing out the very severe abuse. I have seen children that occasionally escape the system, but neighbors often will make complaints, so that you have the proximity situation in the city so that you learn more of what is happening in the neighborhood.
Certainly, poverty and social problems are high, not just psychiatric problems. Obviously, the people who don't have the relief of going on vacation and babysitters and this sort of thing have many more pressures upon them, and the poor do who cannot afford these kinds of reliefs from parenting.
Mr. HOGAN. And the FLOC representative here, are you a member of this national center for the prevention and treatment, or is that just
MS. GALDI. You are referring to the Denver Center? That is an operating center.
Mr. HOGAN. In other words, for years and years and years you have had the societies for prevention of cruelty to animals, you know, and
Ms. GALDI. Also, we have the Society for Prevention of Cruelty of Children, which came after the one for animals.
Is FLOC a member?
Mr. HOGAN. Is FLOC a member of SPCC?
Ms. GALDI. I don't know if we are a member of the SPCC.
Ms. STEIN. I don't think that we are. I don't know if they are the membership kind of
Mr. HOGAN. I would imagine that this committee isn't going to do anything particularly with this, other than to forward it down to the council. But their priority down there is going to be determined pretty
much by what community groups, such as FLOC and others, you know, what you force on them. I think as you indicated, it is an elected group and they are going to be responsive to whatever the pressures are, and if they have an interest in children, this problem-I don't think, in looking at the budget here, it is a question of resources particularly.
Ms. GALDI. Absolutely.
Mr. HOGAN. There is something like $335 million.
Ms. GALDI. In some instances in the expansion of psychiatric residential services for children, there is definitely a money problem. But in the District, my own personal belief is that we still have signals coming from OMB to tell us what is going to be the priority in our city. One of those signals for years in the city has been, you can stuff 900 Black children at Junior Village, and that is okay. Okay, that is the history in this city. It is very hard to break that history, and OMB is still telling us what our priorities are to be, and I can tell you, you know, belonging to a group of organized citizens, we well understand what Home Rule means.
We well understand, we hope, how to teach the Department of Human Resources that they are accountable for and responsible to children as human beings. Children are not objects.
Mr. HOGAN. What I was suggesting is
Ms. GALDI. That is the basic problem.
Mr. HOGAN. I think the total resources are there. It is just a question of perhaps placing, you know, some of the resources they have
Ms. GALDI. Too, sir, the most innovative program in the city-the two most innovative programs in the city dealing with the abused child and neglect, were initiated outside the Department, Forensic Psychiatry and Children's Hospital. They have offered the most magnificent leadership, I think, as well as FLOC, in the city, and that tells something.
Mr. HOGAN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. MAZZOLI. Thank you very much. And thank you all for your very excellent help today.
I will, without objection, make a part of the record some statements that we have received from The Travelers Aid Society, Family and Child Services, Children's Defense Fund of the Washington Research Project, the Child Welfare League of America, and the American Academy of Pediatrics, D.C. Chapter.
[The documents follow:]
JOINT STATEMENT OF DENNIS M. GAUGHAN, SOCIAL SERVICES INSTITUTE, INC. AND JANET R. HUTCHINSON, COUNCIL ON ADOPTABLE CHILDREN, INC., OF METROPOLITAN WASHINGTON, D.C.
Mr. Chairman, our names are Dennis M. Gaughan and Janet R. Hutchinson. Our testimony today presents an analysis of H.R. 15779, a proposal to provide an improved system of protection of abused and neglected children in the District of Columbia. Remarks on H.R. 15918 are also included where appropriate. The perspectives embodied in our testimony derive from personal and organizational factors.
Dennis M. Gaughan is President of Social Services Institute (SSI), Inc. He is the father of four children (three of whom are adopted), serves as an emergency shelter care parent, and was once a homeless child. SSI is a non-profit, tax-exempt public service organization which represents the interests of children and youth. To this end, SSI activities include efforts to enhance and promote the nature, practice, improvement, and understanding of family life.
Janet R. Hutchinson is President of the Council On Adoptable Children (COAC), Inc. of Metropolitan Washington, D.C. She is the mother of four children ( two of whom are adopted), has experience as a foster mother, and has a long established interest in the rights of children and youth. COAC of Metro Washington is a non-profit, tax-exempt citizens' organization composed of involved citizens, adoptive parents, social workers and other professionals concerned about children's rights. The organization presently serves the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia, with some services provided to Delaware, North Carolina, and West Virginia.
Mr. Chairman, we welcome the opportunity to testify before the Committee. We know it isn't necessary to remind you that every child has an inherent right to a permanent, loving home. Previous activities of the Committee have demonstrated a consistent desire to remove unreasonable impediments to the rights of children and youth. We are now confronted with a new and urgent challenge.
When just one abused and neglected child is taken out of the home environment and placed under public care, the social and economic effects can be devastating. We have heard moving testimony today that the problem extends to large numbers of children. Clearly, it is in the interests of children and youth to establish legal and moral responsibility for their best care and protection at all times and under all conditions.
Mr. Chairman, we believe that only those legislative proposals which are costeffective, and truly just to all concerned, should be accepted by the Committee. The first step should be to determine the basic credibility of any pending legislation. At minimum, this can be done by asking the following questions:
Will this legislation divide or unify families? Are adequate family rehabilitative services provided?
Are all placement alternatives to be considered for each child? Will the least detrimental alternative actually be chosen?
Are the procedures which relate to child custody just and constitutional? Is termination of bio-parental rights to be used sparingly and in a nonpunitive manner?
Is there a clear separation of police and civilian powers? Are the rights of children and their families safeguarded? Are the interests of minorities respected?
Can the legislation be implemented? What provisions are included to insure administrative compliance?
Is there money available to support a new program? If so, are funds adequate for the long term? If not, where will the money come from? Is there a mechanism for follow-up evaluation?
How does the new legislation relate to the need for a comprehensive child care plan? Is it compatible? What new needs are now evident?
Of course, there are other considerations. These questions relate to the analysis of substantive content. The discussion which follows offers guidelines related to each grouping of questions. Specific suggestions for changes in the legislation's language, based on the guidelines, are presented in Appendix A.
Mr. Chairman, it is our view that provisions for family rehabilitation should be the priority for any legislation designed to protect abused and neglected children. Most often protective services involve the separation of a child from her or his family. We believe this practice is inappropriate in most cases since the family of first choice for any child must be the child's immediate biological ancestors. This is also the most accessible family and the one which has a definite legal and emotional stake in the services.
The provision of services will most often be to a single woman who gave birth to the child and the genetic father. In other instances, established families (whether organized around wedlock or less formal arrangement) may experience the disruption of illness, financial instability, emotional instability, the dissolution of long standing inter-personal relationships which could presage divorce, and/or other factors. In any case, it is plainly unjust (and upsetting to the over
all social equilibrium) to permit any child to drift into a child welfare system that does not provide the resources for rehabilitation.
Providing a range of alternatives
Provisions for interim (short term) care can be a significant aid to rehabilitation. The utilization of skilled emergency care parents and other resources can hasten reunification of the family. A full array of placement services, including adoption, should be available to insure that the least detrimental alternative can be selected for each child. To impose unjustifiably narrowed placement options is as unjust as having no rehabilitation services.
Termination of bio-parental rights
On the other hand, in the instance of low income families who other than for financial reasons would be able to retain their children, the possibility that their children could wind up adopted is particularly repugnant. This suggests that some form of public service and support to the family in crisis is necessary to ensure that children achieve the security of a permanent home in the most cost-effective and just manner possible. Most of all, the threat of termination of bio-parental rights to obtain compliance from a recalcitrant family must be avoided. As adoptive parents, we would find this practice an unjust and unconstitutional distortion of our way of life.
Separation of police and civilian powers
Safeguarding the rights of all parties in cases involving abused and neglected children is indeed a difficult matter. The rights of children, parents, and the rest of society must be weighed and assayed for their relative merit. The role of police and civilian authorities is a particularly sensitive matter and deserves careful attention.
In the first place, abuse and neglect is primarily a civilian problem. It is most susceptible to civilian methods and patterns of behavior. Since the primary purpose of intervention by any authority must be rehabilitation and prevention of further abuse and neglect, the police authorities should not figure into early stages of intervention, except as observers and to offer specialized assistance. However, there should be a clear boundary on how long an abuse or neglect situation can be permitted to continue without meaningful attention. The civilian authorities should be required to show the court that they have executed a wellprepared plan for each child within 24 hours. If this condition is not met, then police intervention is justified.
The term police is used here to indicate both uniformed and non-uniformed officers specifically empowered to act in a law enforcement capacity. The use of civilians to act as substitute watchdogs is specifically not acceptable. This rules out penalties to child care workers active on a specific case for lack of cooperation with police in regard to that specific case. It also rules out using a husband and wife to testify against each other in abuse and neglect cases. Certainly they may report one another, but this testimony must not be used as evidence. Such an action is divisive, not unifying, for a family and runs contrary to sound legal practice.
Problems of implementation
Provisions such as those mentioned so far can facilitate or impede implementation. However, the feasibility of implementation rests on a recognition that child abuse and neglect problems will yield only to a multi-disciplinary endeavor involving administrators, attorneys, medical personnel, parents, psychiatrists or psychologists, and social workers. The bill before this Committee omits mention of administrators and parents.
An administrator must be on the multi-disciplinary team to insure full administrative involvement and compliance. Parents who themselves have direct experience with child abuse and neglect must also be included on the team. These two important additions avoid a proliferation of "experts" who may not have any experimental contact with the problems involved in actual implementation of a plan.
Finally, with respect to implementation, there should be some assurance that the proposed legislation will actually result in action. We have no quarrel with independent status for the new Center for Prevention of Child Abuse. After all, it is nearly one year since we testified on behalf of a subsidized adoption bill for the District of Columbia. As you know, the bill passed this Committee and went on to become law. The D.C. Department of Human Resources (DHR) still has not implemented the law, even though the target date of April 2, 1974 is long past.